Dionysus- POST 1

"I don't have to sell my soul. He's already in me. I don't need to sell my soul. He's already in me. I wanna be adored." -The Stone Roses


This is how you should worship:
Build no temples.
Turn up the volume
and scream.


Part 1.

He did not remember any of his births
but knew each one was like the opposite of being held.
The 1st time Dionysus saw green
and drew in air from the world
the wind was butterfly migration.
The day smelled of a clean city's
concrete sidewalks and Popsicles
during summer's slowest time.

The story, creases in his shadow,
pin left after the grenade has detonated
began with lightening entering a woman.
Zeus, the sexiest and most deranged of all vectors
found the daughter of Cadmus and Harmony.
Her name was Semele and she
rested on his barbed eyelash.
He found her hanging from clouds
erasing borders.
Her velocity left a photo album
in the air swishing behind her blue dress.
Zeus harbored Semele
a mortal with beauty
like rain gathered in steel.
Her voice cooled lava
to monuments inside of him.
He promised her anything
any one wish that she could speak.
For in her trail of pictures
he lost the path he could return home by
all those colors rising behind her like new suns kissing dawn
and she became pregnant
a new baby kicking in the dew of their morning.
Zeus named the book of her love.

Hera, his wife,
decreed it unforgivable.
Hera the wise
her granite eyes and sky at dusk skin
took full advantage
of her husbands arrogance
of his foolish male kindling.
Hera (whose constant
diamond splitting will not be detailed here)
tricked Semele into asking Zeus to appear
without human disguise.
She would strike
with all the grace lacking in thunder bolts.
Hera the bullet
owl-winged scorn
volcano in her garden of peacocks,
the fanning, vain symbols of her wisdom.
She came to Semele and her family
a nursemaid in rags
and began with questions:

Why would a god take interest in you?
Ask him to show himself, to prove he is Zeus.

Semele understood jealousy
but what if this Zeus was just a man
some clever sack who'd tricked her.
She loved him regardless but a lie
doesn't sit well in blood
as it passes though the heart.
Semele's sisters teased her
mocked her youth and beauty
called her mind a plot for wish
a stupid patch of dirt erupting lies.
A tricked woman called braggart
by her family, mislead by a jealous
omnipotent wife, caved.
She must know.
Semele asked
I want to see you as you are. All of you.
And Zeus
his promise now thorned silver
came to Semele unmasked.
He knew it would kill her.

Imagine running towards the sun
and making it
begging shelter at its doorstep
the door opening
something more than huge fire.

She became a bedridden constellation.
It took the skin from her apple.
Dionysus, no bigger than a coffee cup,
was too weak to be born yet
and so he would grow
in the marble of a foolish gods' leg.
His mother
stopped in this world.

A valley heaved
and Dionysus was born.


He was a rivulet gone cascade
cared for by a band of nymphs,
golden women
who seemed to be made of sexy paper and light.
They fed him milk, and sage tea.
He was like a black haired cloud,
eggshell white and perfect,
silent and loud,


His 1st 3rd birthday was celebrated
beneath summers 1st moon.
Zeus sent fireworks.
Hera, still hacking away
at the precious,
sent a pedophile.
Still as coal, the baby watched guests
ease their way through
and passed his place in the grass.
It’s sick what quiet eyes notice,
what object wins the bid of
must be touched.

Lured by candy and toys into a windowless van,
our tiny cloud crawled away from his birthday song,
away from a fire painted sky and lemon cake
he was swallowed.
At a viewless clearing
a baby was cleaved,
torn asunder like a blank morning paper
and fed to savage things that children
should not have to forget.

When making pottery
the spectacle of using a fire kiln is this:
clay is formed and placed
in an oven that has been heated.
Salt is dropped in like gunfire.
The aftermath is questionable beauty.
Dionysus would always feel pellets of ocean
raging in the fruit of his body,
salt in his fields.

Longing always looks like the exhale of cigarette smoke
and it has a rhythm.
They spared his heart,
it’s red mess left in dirt and missing the body it pumped for
like a lover fucking the folds of an empty bed.

Zeus saw this and felt not himself
and so the heart of Dionysus
became a single pomegranate,
tough casing with all red hidden,
and from this armored passion
a seed was taken
and ruptured over the forgettable place
where a toddler god had died.
Out from the seed and into the earth
came blood that sparked and thundered
in a small way.
From this slight electric massacre
grew an Amaryllis
and from it bloomed the 3rd birth
of Dionysus.
He tumbled from his petaled manger
crying and was given
to the Satyrs.
A bomb asking for its fuse
to be lit.


Full of summer and having a dangerous sense of humor,
the Satyrs lived on an island south of the lowest point
of the empire.
From their heads sprouted curling horns
and they bucked, danced, and hopped about
on their goat like legs.
They liked drink,
They loved chasing nymphs
women whose beauty was like moth wings subjected to great light.

Their home was a mountainous island
with one small city in its largest bay.
A bit of pranking and play never made
for dull days and restless nights.
They carried flutes that could seduce the teeth from a lion,
or make a baby god sleep when he was fussy or sick.
At once, they worshiped Dionysus,
called him little fire
or little god
or little loud voice.
One Satyr, whose name was Selinus, had less time for pranking,
and spent everyday with Dionysus.
He would do so until his beard went white
and his heart was too tired for wine.
He became a close advisor as Dionysis grew.
If Dionysus believed in or had ever seen trust
he would have given it Selines’ face.
Selinus was always saying,
You just keep blooming, little god.
Even silly goats when grown
say such things.
Their friendship was one side of the moon
and the other.
It could always be seen.


The 3rd birth or
perhaps the 2nd death
had changed the child.
Baby Dionysus’ black hair and eyes
were now bronze in color.
He was burnt gold.
Rust velvet locks fell over his child face
and he stared at each Satyr that held him
as if he could will them to never put him down.
Somewhere down
passed memory
where his Mother might be
he was scared of another death.
He was fed scotch bonnet porridge,
milk, and
beginning on his 2nd 3rd birthday,
tea from the swell of poppies.
This is when his eyes began to move.
2 copper beams that swirled
like a nest of desert vipers.
The child-god would play with his toy chest
of poppy fields, beehives, ocean waters and their dwellers.
The Satyrs would watch
hoping for the best
but mostly it was messy.
When he grew teeth
they fed him chewed peacock meat
from the mouths of panthers.
Hera boiled over
but rains just make little gods grow.


The 1st word Dionysus spoke was Yes.
Satyr’s would fawn over him
as, though a tempestuous little pain, he was favored.
Little Dionysus, are you hungry?

Dionysus... would you like a bath?
*indiscernible coo’ing* Yes

Dionysus is an evil little brat of a biter isn’t he?
*distant thunder is heard*
Yes. Yes. Yes.

His second word was Why.
Yes. Why. Yes. Why. Why. Yes.

and so on.


Water can be pure violence
and it is not reluctant.

With Why came more questions
and when some of those questions went
unanswered or belly flopped on sad ears
anger climbed from a little boy’s stomach
into plain view.
It was a closet monster that devoured certain days
and on those days
Dionysus would swim until
he was sure a day
had been there.
Then he would go to the place
where he thought maybe
his mother might be
and he would be still like they were always telling him to do.
His eyes would slow
but his hands were leaves
and islands are windy.
His heart came out of his eyes
and it was salty
like his friend
the sea.


Mid-autumn Dionysus would take ill.
His lungs would fill with sickness and heavy water,
chest bubbling like a high powered radiator.
Selinus would place hot towels around his throat
force him to drink pepper tea
and red chili soup.
His fever would smack the sun
and horrors were held on the lips of his dreams.

Each foot braced by a swimming dolphin,
Dionysus would be carried away
a ring of snakes fighting one another circled
his head, darting in and out of his hair
and everywhere the cries of panthers.
He would feel Zeus turn from him
or that any cinder of Dionysus in anyone’s heart
would cool and blow away.
The ocean would run out too,
drop off into nothing
an ending
and take the child-god with it.

He was 5 when he had this dream.
Zeus saw his shallow breathing
his sleeping fits
and did nothing.


Rearing a baby-god
kept the Satyrs engaged.
They cradled and looked after a petite hurricane.
Cat cubs may never learn
caution with life.

No one was killed
but a few of the Satyrs lost
most of their tail hair to a tug.
One was found covered in vines
with little Dionysus gurgling a song
and swinging from the goat-man’s left ear.

Crying had become laughing.
Small got bigger.
Crawling turned to walking
and he grew
until giggle and spittle and shitting
became talking and questions
and brooding
and he grew
to his 1st and only 6th birthday.


Ownership is a funny, non-existent thing.
No god can claim anything as his own
other than the adoration that is given and taken
and even that is a constant circle of motion.


Most of the valley had been plum trees.
Half of it remained so
but with each year that Dionysus grew
so did his grape vines.
Vitis vinifera, Vitis rupestris,
Bordeaux, Rioja, Sangiovese, Teroldego,
Tuscany, Grappa, Brandy…
it all began here.
By the age of 5
he was showing the Satyrs how to tend the grapes
and make wine from them.
(add some bits about the process of wine making here)

By 7 he could open the earth with his finger
and a sweet blush
or a tangy white would come answering
to the surface.
His home was arcing green dangling purple.
It was an azure sea
and willows that tickled his head when he ran,
panthers and dolphins that played with him
as their own.
There were some islanders that feared and hated Dionysus.
The wounded who walk
are a grave reminder of mortality
especially when they’re smiling
and he, even when he was a crawling baby
happily spouting gibberish
was a postcard signed
by the gold and soot
of the human condition.


Light wines only require a few months to make.
Heavier, robust reds can take years.

The Satyr’s cut his bronze hair
dressed him in new black boots,
jeans with room for kid movements,
a dark green t shirt,
and a blue pin striped vest.
They cautioned him to still his eyes
to keep his laughter soft
and off he went
hands full of fruit for his teacher,
perhaps a friend or 2 would like some as well.

The school was room after room piled on top of
and next to one another. It looked like a huge toy.
The building of rooms was “L” shaped
with a rusty playground in it’s clutches.
His classmates, well,
when your irises swirl like a carousel
not many are going to want too share a lunch table.
On his second day he met some kids
he might have got on well with
when he was trying to make a better swing
out of tough grape vines.
The other kids really liked it.
His kindergarten teacher tore it down.

Dionysus was given crayons.
Wax of weak, drab colors
that did not mimic
the brilliance of life.
Heartless stick figures
and soulless family portraits
would not do
so he filled page after page
with solid black.
Better nothing
than pale imitations.

They gave him oil paints
rich hues and every color
but he loved the thick, wet
texture so much
that he simply played in
not with it.
He would cover his body
with wildflower patterns
then run into the sea
to watch color bleed,
thinning somehow
heavy too
from him.
Zeus saw this
and felt a soft light shine in his gut
this child needs an exclamation point, he thought…
maybe some riddelin,
perhaps a friend that is more of a question mark.


Mostly, Dionysus sat with willow branches caressing his head.
He'd given up on school as most teachers looked at him like an asp
which had yet to learn its vocation.
Many couldn't see passed his silence enough to take him seriously
but never mind them. That's what Silenus said, never mind them,
so he kept his mouth shut and considered things.
Dionysus had questions.

In dripping salvos he'd asked many Satyrs, Nymphs, and people.
No one answered.
Eyes rolled and lips pursed.
Some laughed and presented some busying task to occupy him.
He liked Legos. Checkers were too easy.
Still, others backed away
shaking their head left to right until he wanted
to be taller so that he could smack them off his island.

He considered these questions good ones:
How did his mother die?
Why did this Hera kill him?
If he was a god
could she do so again?
Could he kill her and, if so,
should he?
(this particular line of innocent interrogation caused two of the Satyrs
to pass out and one Wood Nymph to vomit.)
Kids say the darndest things, said Silenus, grinning.

Courage fit his tongue like fresh spit.
Was he immortal?
Could he make a thunderbolt?
What if he could and did by accident
and destroyed the island
and everyone on it
and he would feel so bad about it
but he would probably survive, right?
(also not well received)

And Hera…
her eyes were the forest, were shadows and strangers.
He saw her in every unfamiliar hand.
He would awake crazed and edged when startled.
He trembled if reached for too quickly.
But his childhood was sunlit and free.
To children
earthquakes are a confusing interruption,
a vivid distraction from play and exploration.
From the panic of adults
the young learn fear.
Kids recover because they have
being a kid
to return to.
Grown ups do not.
Adults ignore all questions left unanswered.
They count on the grave for freedom.
Dionysus wanted it now.

Can I see my Father?
And then, so brutal for a child, When?
Silenus walked slowly to the tiny war
and Dionysus knew something
he wanted to not ever hear was about to be spoken.
The huge goat sat gently in front of the child
and, as if through a beard twice as thick as he actually had,
said, You may never see your parents again. You were never
supposed to be a kid. Not like this.

He knew Silenus meant broken,
that he was wrong in some way.
He stood quietly and stared into
the cuddling eyes
of his best friend
and then he walked towards his vines
away from everyone
taking only his Leopards with him.
His dolphins moved into the harbor
closer to his vineyards
closer to him.
The Leopards kept him warm in the island cold,
hunted with him
and attempted to purr
what is not warmth but could only be called such
back into his growing frame.
The dolphins sang and played with him
darting through waves like glistening rocket-bursts.
They kept his eyes steady
kept his smile not tucked too deep.
For a year
he was silent and alone
thinking on how not to be damaged.
This is when he learned to talk with the Leopards
to sing back to the dolphins
by thinking to them.
He thought them so perfect
as right as the duration of a good day.
Their cunning, guiltless grace.
Their absolute admission of joy
and hunger.
They were his only friends
until spring brought color.


Jade Sylvan said...


more thoughts to come.

Caitlin Meissner said...

Jme, the white on black is a bit hard to read on the screen- any thoughts to change it? Oh, I guess people could print it more easily if it wasn't, eh? (No stealers!) I am thrilled to have had my own private reading of much of this on "our" porch, but it is a blessing to be able to come back and revisit. The leopards are still my favorite- what gorgeous imagery! (Caits)